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Sandals South Coast
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Reviewed December 20, 2012

First off arriving at the airport was a bit interesting. We were met immediately by a Sandals representative when exiting from customs, and were told to put our passports away from prying eyes. Escorted to the Sandals lounge right by the exit, which was great. We felt very safe and taken care of, and did not have to deal with any of the hagglers waiting for unsuspecting tourists.
The drive to SWH was interesting, but not bad at all. If you are prone to carsickness sit near the front of the van and you will be fine, the back is more prone to swaying and getting you dizzy. The driver and porter at the airport are not part of sandals so they do expect a tip.

Check In: We sat down upon arrival and filled out a form to check in. A porter took us to our rooms along with our luggage and were given a short tour. It felt a little formal since we were used to doing everything ourselves. It took us two days to settle in, as the resort is quiet and you had to be waited on for everything. For instance you had to wait to be seated at the lunch buffet etc. After the first day we thought perhaps the resort was too quiet and secluded for us and tried to see if we could move to another resort at Negril or Montego Bay. The option was available for free if comparable rooms were available, which was nice, but we ended up not taking it as we got used to the seclusion after the second day and ended up enjoying it immensely.

Service: Service did not blow our socks off for over half of the staff we encountered, it seemed very formal and staff were not really overly friendly like other resorts we have gone to. We found out after the first few days though that they warm up immensely once you know their name or call them by their name so it was much better after that. A couple of note-worthy people: Natalie at the Jerk Pit is great, Prince is a goofball but so much fun and memorable, also Andrew, Wayan, and a few others I've missed.

Food: Ala Carte restaurants were great, but it was disappointing that there was no dinner buffet since we like our variety. Lunch and breakfast buffets were decent but not great, but I suppose that is the trade-off you get for going to a smaller higher service resort as opposed to the mammoth resorts at the Mayan Riviera. We did not know about Friday lobster, and found out too late so that was a bit disappointing. Dessert was always subpar, looked great but didn't taste great, but the rum cake at Bluefield’s and the spring roll banana served with ice cream at Jasmine's were by far the best of all that we tried. The salt/pepper and olive oil/balsamic bottles were always really sticky and dirty so they need a good clean, kind of surprising for a sandals resort. The best food we had was at the Jerk Pit. Best jerk chicken anywhere, ask and Natalie will give you the recipe for the amazing sauce they cover the jerk chicken with. Loved the Jamaican beef patties at Bluefield’s. Loved the French cafe and that you could walk in and get a cappuccino or some cookies and crepes, or soft serve. Breakfast sucked as the hours were very limited. We would also have liked a better late night food offering, would have expected it to be better at Sandals resorts.

Beach:
The beach was amazing. Soft sand and no water shoes needed in the roped off areas. We walked in the other areas and had no problems but I did not like walking in the water grass. Not a big issue. We went snorkeling a bunch of times both with the snorkeling trips 3x a day, and just outside of the roped off areas and saw a bunch of starfish, sea urchin etc. Love the towels that were readily available and you didn’t have to have a towel card, or only get to change it for a dry clean one once a day like we have seen at some other resorts. We also saw jellyfish twice very close to us and were paranoid about getting stung after, but never did. Lots of loungers available but by 6:30 am all the straw huts which provided the best shade were taken, which was annoying. They should have a no-reservation policy as we never saw any people come back to most of the loungers that were reserved. Very annoying. We had to go by the French pool where there were a lot of trees that provided shade, since the umbrellas provide little coverage, but would have been nice to get the straw huts once in a while.

Beach Volleyball:
Beach volleyball was so much fun. The sand is not very deep and concrete underneath only about 2 inches of sand so don't dive for the ball.

Pool:
Usually the loungers in the front row were taken by the time we got there but never an issue getting a lounger at the main pool, even the sun beds free up often by the French pool and Italian hot tub so those were nice. The pool bars always smelled bad so it might need a good cleaning.

Rooms:
Rooms were nice, smaller than I expected but not a big deal. They give you large containers of soap and conditioner which is nice but we had to ask for new ones since we were running out after a few days. The bed is horrible and gave us back pains, I was expecting a much better sleep but alas we had better naps on the beach loungers.
We asked for additional pillows as when we got there we had 2 lumpy pillows and 2 that were very full and plush, however they were covered in this decorative white material so thinking that they were decorative I did not want to lay my heads on them since who knows how long it's been since those were changed. I suffered through this for a few nights, then asked for 2 additional pillows and got 2 more decorative ones! Useless I thought, I could not sleep on them. I found out later that they change the sheets on the "decorative" pillows every other day, so were safe to sleep on by talking with housekeeping. Ok I said, thanks for the information. The next day, all 6 pillows had the regular cotton covering, so I felt a lot better about sleeping on them. Was amazed they still went to the trouble to change up the covering to put my mind at ease, so this was great. I called them promptly to thank them!

Entertainment: There were no real late nights to speak of. The shows were goofy but not bad for "couples game shows" or whatever. We loved the beach water sports and taking the hobie sailboats out. There were always some available and if there weren't, never had to wait for more than an hour which is great. We also took the stand-up paddle boats, glass bottom boat tour, and snorkeling tours. The water sports is unparalleled. We loved that Sandals would bring in a different musician every night, there was opera night with a male soprano, guitar and singing in the garden, Reggae night etc. Always something different and always great quality music.

Decor: Decor is amazing and all the loungers, seats, etc were super comfy. Loved the fire pits, and umbrellas that provided ample shade and shelter from the 15 minute rainstorms if needed.

Overall: Took a little while to get used to the smaller resort and seclusion but we would definitely go back to a Sandals, and would highly recommend SWH for those looking for a romantic secluded vacation.

Room Tip: Every room gets a view of the ocean so can't really go wrong. Italian is closest to the main pool but still a bit of the walk. We loved being in Dutch village since it was in the middle.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Clarice N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2012

12/2012 My husband and I just returned from our 3rd vacation to Sandals Whitehouse, Jamaica and we are already planning our 4th trip. The property is so well maintained and beautiful! Flowers are always blooming in different, vibrant colors. The grass is groomed and manicured so perfectly. The pools, the beach and restaurants are very clean. The overall atmosphere is warm and friendly. We had four couples who traveled with us and all of them plan to return. There was entertainment every evening, either in the Caberet or the Martini Bar. The staff works hard to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. We spent most of our days in the French swim-up bar, playing water volleyball and enjoying the personalities of the bartenders, Tamique and Shane. Rashanna and Geraldine were great activities directors. Anthony, at the Martini Bar is so entertaining. We have never had a bad experience at this resort. We have never been treated rudely or with disrespect. The staff is always smiling and greeting the guests with genuine warmth. I can't say enough about this resort, except you have to experience it to believe it.

Room Tip: We like the French Village because we love to spend our days at the French swim-up bar and play water volley ball. We like our room to be on the top floor for the best view of the Caribbean Sea. But, there really isn't a bad room at this resort. Every room has a balcony to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Debra B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2012

This was our first visit to Sandals and we had a lovely vacation. Room (just the basic level) was French village, third floor, quiet, newly repainted, large, lovely, great expansive ocean view, sunsets every night. Sandals has invested in good quality windows, not usually seen at resorts which makes it quieter at night. We are both light sleepers so this was appreciated.

Resort is large, French village at the end, so a good walk. Ok by us but others might find it much. Resort mostly flat and quite accessible. Saw several people in wheelchairs managing fine.

Restaurants and food were great - we had such consistently good meals. No reservations were needed, we always got in whenever we wanted. This was very nice, just to not be on a schedule.
Staff were friendly and caring, we had so many nice conversations with them and I have never seen staff go so far out of their way.
Very well maintained. In particular, I found the washrooms always clean (thank you Sandals). Several times a day people were cleaning them. So appreciated.
Big lovely beach. Sand not the whitest and some stones, sharp bits. Raked every day. French swimming area quiet clear, sandy bottom. Italian has some sea grass so be more careful. Water always calm as it is a cove blocked by a reef. Several people stung by sea urchins which are native in the area, so be careful. You should be ok in the french swimming area, but take a look before you put your feet down.
Not a windy area, so in a week, we only had one day for sailing/windsurfing. Water usually calm. Offers waterskiing and its a good location for that.
Scuba snorkel trips were well run but not quite as careful about reef care etc as in some other places.
Spa credit offered by travel company (air canada vacations) was not honoured at the resort. Not sure if this was a Sandals mixup or air canada, but was a disappointment.
Air Canada flights offer "on board cafe" only, so prepare for this.
We both experienced multiple bug bites, mosquitos in the evening and sand fleas during the day. I must have got several hundred. Other people experiencing this as well, so prepare for this. It is just nature, and not really an issue with the resort itself, but I wish I had been more aware of this before I went.

Room Tip: An upper floor gives more ocean view as there are trees, bushes planted between rooms and the ocean.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Cat_travels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 19, 2012

This was our first experience to a Sandals, and also to Jamaica. It consisted of an amazing week-long stay from Dec 8-15, which also included our destination wedding. There are honestly too many positive experience to mention - along with many, may wonderful Sandals employees... so I will try to make this as high-level as possible, but realize I will probably forget to mention someone or something.

Yes, the ride to the Whitehouse resort is MISERABLE. But, once you enter the property, you quickly realize the 1.5 hours were well worth it. The resort is gorgeous. We had a concierege level room in the Dutch Village. Altho we probably didn't take enough advantage of the concierege service, I do recommend it... if for nothing else, the fully stocked drink selection in the room was appreciated.

A special shout out to our wedding planners Sebrina and Fabirella - they were amazing. So very fun, and accomodating, and they helped our wedding to be one of our best memories ever. Also, a should out to Sophie and Shanieka(?) for their help as well. The photographer Racardo kept us laughing and took some amazing pictures for us.

The food at the resort is amazing, our favorite being Giuseppes - and we want to recognize our waiter Claudius, who made our experience special. We ate there I think 3 out of our 7 nights - and he remembered us and even went out of his way to get my Wife a dish of Mussel's, when they were not on the menu for the evening. The Bayside breakfasts and lunch were fantastic. Probably only place we really didn't care for wa sNeptunes - but no fault of the chef or servers.

All the Bartenders were fun - especially Copeland, who seemed to appreciate being a TripAdvisor celebrity of sorts!

We were very sad to have our week go by so quickly. And will definitely return. Based on our experience we would 100% recommend Sandals Whitehouse to anyone considering it. Also, a few travel trips - DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON THE BOMBAY CLUB when leavign Jamaica, you get thru customs their quite fast without it. And, be sure to have a few dollars American to tip the drivers and baggage guys - who are not Sandals employees. Other than that - ENJOY!!

Room Tip: Concierge level of the Dutch Village is amazing. And a very easy walk to the main pool area.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank John G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 18, 2012

This was our second trip to Sandals Whitehouse and our fourth trip to Sandals. Our trip started out a bit rocky (and no, I'm not talking about the drive there). When we got our room key/packet, I noticed we were placed in the French village. I had requested Italian when we made the reservation at the Soon Come Back desk last year. I asked politely if we could switch to Italian, and was told by the front desk agent, without missing a beat, that it was full and there were no rooms available today, but she would put our name on a list and call us in the morning to switch us. Perfect, no problem! We went off to our room (which had a giant bush outside the balcony blocking any ocean view...just our luck!) and delayed unpacking until the move. The next morning came with no phone call. I stopped by the front desk in the afternoon, and inquired with the same front desk agent. She rolled her eyes, looked me in the eye and said, "There is no list, and there has been no notation made for you moving. The Italian village is full all week". Then she walked away. I was a little baffled and confused, being told multiple stories (and also, occupancy was only 50% for this week in early December, so I'm having trouble believing all this) and not happy that I was being treated rather rudely. My husband saw that I was upset, and asked for the lady's manager (once he was actually able to get her attention again). We were told that she would call us (this never happened). As guests on the younger end of the age spectrum, it seems like they thought nothing of just pushing us aside (I later saw an older lady be able to switch her room without a hassle). Later in the day, we found Adrian at the Soon Come Back desk, our friend from our previous stay. We caught up a little, and when we told him what happened, he got a very concerned look on his face. Within the hour, he was on his way to our room, grabbing our bags and moving us to a lovely corner Italian Village room. I wasn't asking the front desk for anything extraordinary (ie a penthouse suite), but I just didn't appreciate the front desk staff dismissing me and playing games. I may not have 100+ nights at Sandals (but I am a gold member at this point), but every guest deserves to be treated with respect and honesty. Mr G. says we're all a part of the Sandals "family"...well, this felt like being the ignored third cousin! I would have loved to let management know in person (as opposed to TripAdvisor), but that Mr. G moves faster than the Energizer bunny, or is surrounded by "VIP guests", so I never got a chance, unfortunately. This really put a damper on my stay, and I made sure to stay away from the front desk for the rest of the trip when possible. Thank goodness for people like Adrian, who exemplify the stellar customer service and kindness that Sandals should be striving for. The situation was easily fixable, and he really shined and took it upon himself to make us very happy.

Something I want to point out, which is very important to my husband and I, is the chefs and restaurant staff and their knowledge and flexibility surrounding food allergies. Every year, Sandals gets better and better at this. After shooting off a quick email to the resort a week before arrival detailing my husband's allergy, we were met on arrival by one of the head chefs. He told us to ask for him if we had any trouble, and he was more than willing to be flexible with the menu. It was very reassuring, and we felt very comfortable. This year, it was common to go into a restaurant and be greeted with "Welcome to [restaurant], my name is [name], do you have any food allergies that I should be aware of?". I was baffled (in a good way) about how proactive they were. And they knew their stuff too! A+ for food and beverage!

We didn't do all that many activities this trip, opting to hang by the main pool, read, float, repeat. It was lovely to wake up early and be the only one on the beach. Such peacefulness and relaxation that you just can't find anywhere else. And in the evening, heading down to the Dutch village to watch a gorgeous sunset from the hot tub...it doesn't get much better. The entertainment staff does a great job, and this year they were much less "pushy" than last year. Much appreciated. Real good people - Shane, Cheldon, Prince, Wayon, Geraldine and Rashanna. Sure, some of the shows are cheesy (same as we saw last year), but they are all in good fun. Do yourself a favor and do NOT miss the Silver Birds Steel Orchestra on Saturday night. They are truly amazing.

This is a really great resort and the only hesitation I have in returning is the front desk staff and the uncharacteristically rude treatment we got from them. We have made a reservation for next year (which would bring us to platinum level/Silver Sandals), and hope that improvements are made in this area. Seems like an easy fix for management - the front desk should be a shining example of service, as they are the first people that guests encounter! I look forward to the many improvements to come at Sandals Whitehouse (can't wait for the pub!).

Room Tip: For gorgeous sunsets, choose French or Dutch Villages. To be closer to the main areas, choose Italian Village. If pool volleyball is your thing (and a bit more rowdy crowd), go for French.
Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
5  Thank ssunshinej
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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